Compartmentalized Creativity

Combine an eye-catchingly vague thumbnail image with a somewhat thought provoking headline donning the word “Creativity” and there is a 95% chance readers will think you’re an asshole.

(pro tip: referring to people as “readers” bumps that percentage up to 98%)

It’s fine.

I get it.

You probably think I’m an asshole. And in some respects you may even be right.

cue photo

However, since you’re here and I have your attention and you’re anxiously awaiting for me to make a grammatical error, we should talk about something. If you follow me on Instagram (cue shameless plug) @joeybrodnax, you may have noticed an influx of semi-artsy, tolerably random photos.

What began as a simple case of winter break hometown boredom, is continuing for an entirely different reason.

Over the past year, I’ve been working as a videographer in Nashville. Week after week, working with musicians, business owners, soon-to-weds, and film directors. All of whom, expecting constant creative input.

Although unclear to me at the time, I began compartmentalizing my creativity.

“Hold on, did he really just use the headline of his article in his article?”

Early on, I didn’t notice it. Work kept coming in and clients continued to seem pleased. However, as the year came to a close, my work began to feel — different. Not bad or inferior. Just different.

When I was working I could turn it on (leave your sexual innuendos aside) and when I wasn’t working it was the last thing on my mind. I was slowly but surely decaying my own creativity by reducing it to nothing more than a tool to be used when I had a camera in my hand and a client over my shoulder.

Inspired by boredom and with no intentions at all, I picked up my camera and started shooting one day during break. This was the first time in a while that I was creating something that wasn’t for “work”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Getting to constantly work with countless talented individuals and seeing them become excited and invested in something that we’re collectively creating is actually a dream. I have just been going about in a way that I came to realize is exhaustible.

After driving around my town aimlessly shooting for what seemed like an hour (later realized was more like four), I returned home and began looking through the frames. Some of the shots actually weren’t that bad and I started to get excited about a few. This excitement was followed immediately by a question that unsettled me — Why was it that this feeling of excitement in my work seemed foreign?

That was when it hit me.

That was when I realized what I had done.

And that was when I decided I had to do something about it.

I strongly believe that creativity should never be confined, boxed in, or really even limited. Creativity is free flowing. It’s a tub where the faucet is constantly running. An ongoing exchange of draining and filling.

By compartmentalizing my creativity, I was stopping the flow. I was draining and not filling. I hadn’t lost my ability to be creative. But my tub was quickly emptying and something had to be done.

The continued capturing of these unstaged, precedent free photos was and continues to be my solution.

These photos are the aid in keeping my eyes peeled and mind accessible.

These photos are the reason I’m bringing newfound warmth to recent projects.

These photos are my constant and critical attempt to keep the faucet on.

I say all of this not from the perspective of some self-appointed creative elite, but simply from the perspective of someone who has experienced, lost, and found once more the day in, day out joy of creativity.

So, what’s the consensus? Think I’m an asshole? Let me know here.